North Korea to launch rocket April 4: Report

March 20th, 2009 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, March 20 (RIA Novosti) North Korea will launch a rocket April 4 to deliver a communications satellite into orbit, a media report said Friday.
The communist state earlier announced plans to launch a communications satellite between April 4 and 8. The US and South Korea have accused Pyongyang of using the launch as an excuse to test-fire a long-range missile.

The three-stage rocket will be launched from the newly constructed Musudan-ri launch pad on the country’s northeast coast, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported.

The report cited diplomats in Beijing as saying that the launch would go ahead April 4 barring adverse weather conditions or last-minute repairs.

Pyongyang earlier said the first stage of the carrier rocket would fall into the Sea of Japan, and the second stage into the Pacific Ocean.

Japan has warned that it could position interceptor missiles, to shoot down any North Korean missiles threatening its territory.

Seoul and Washington say Pyongyang will test a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, thought to have a range of 6,700 km that could reach the US states of Alaska and Hawaii.

North Korea first tested a long-range missile in 1998, when it launched a Taepodong-1 over northern Japan, claiming that it carried a domestically-developed satellite.

In 2002, Pyongyang and Tokyo agreed to a moratorium on missile tests, but North Korea has continued research on ballistic missile technology.

On Oct 14, 2006, the UN Security Council had passed the Resolution 1718 that forbids North Korea from conducting nuclear tests or launch of ballistic missiles.

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